With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, Baird Helgeson, Patricia Lopez, Jim Ragsdale, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Corey Mitchell and Jim Spencer.

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Minnesota's October tax collections beat target by $56 million

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: November 12, 2013 - 4:32 PM

Minnesota’s tax collections in October beat expectations by more than $56 million.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue took in $1.6 billion for the month, about 3.6 percent higher than estimated.

Income tax collections came in at $718 million, about $30.3 million more than budget officials estimated.

Sales tax collections were $455 million, beating targets by 4.4 million.

The state took in $63.9 million in corporate income taxes, up $1 million over estimates.

Other revenue came in $20 million over estimates, at $362 million.

Budget officials warn not to read too much into monthly revenue statements. They can vary wildly based on a range of factors, including timing of tax payments.

Mayo names six to new development authority

Posted by: Jennifer Brooks Updated: November 8, 2013 - 3:11 PM

Mayo Clinic’s $6 billion makeover of downtown Rochester involves staggering amounts of money and equally staggering amounts of planning.

Before Rochester can build, it has to decide what to build. On Friday, Mayo named six new planners to guide Rochester’s future development – including a retired Minnesota Twins executive and the dean of the Carlson School of Management.

The new Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency will spearhead the community planning, development and marketing of the 20-year project and advise the Destination Medical Center Corporation board.

Its six-member board includes: Jerry Bell, former president of the Minnesota Twins; Lisa Clarke, executive director of the Destination Medical Center’s Economic Development Agency; Mayo physician and pediatrics professor Dr. Patricia Simmons; Gary Smith, president of Rochester Area Economic Development; Wendy Wood, senior investment manager at University of Minnesota Foundation Investment Advisors; and Srilatta Zaheer, dean of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. The DMC board approved their appointment Friday.

“These leaders who have agreed to serve on the…board bring a wealth of expertise and knowledge that will ensure the work of the EDA is on the highest level and fulfills the mission of the DMC initiative in a way that benefits the people of Minnesota and the Rochester community,” Mayo Clinic president and CEO Dr. John Noseworthy said in a statement. “Today’s announcement represents another important step forward in making the DMC vision a reality.”

Mayo is pouring more than $3 billion of its own money into the Destination Medical Center and has pledged to line up another $2 billion in private investment. The state and local governments are chipping in another half a billion in taxpayer funding for the project, which will expand the medical center and overhaul downtown Rochester into a destination in its own right, brimming with new businesses, restaurants, parks and entertainment options.

It may be 2015 before Rochester residents and visiting Mayo patients notice any new construction. The Economic Development Agency will hold public meetings to vet development proposals and make their recommendation to the board.

The Destination Medical Center Corporation also launched its new website Friday – www.dmccorporation.org.


Klobuchar hoping farm bill to pass by the end of the year

Posted by: Jennifer Brooks Updated: October 18, 2013 - 1:04 PM

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is hoping Congress can pass the long-delayed Farm Bill by the end of this year.

"We would like to get this done and get this done fast," said Klobuchar, one of three Minnesota Democrats appointed to the Farm Bill conference committees. The committee, which must hammer out a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill, also includes Minnesota Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz.

If Congress can't reach a compromise before the end of the year, American farm policy will default to 1949 levels -- a prospect that brought representatives of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Farmers Union, Pheasants Forever to join Klobuchar at the Second Harvest food bank in Golden Valley on Friday morning.

The fact that a conference committee has been appointed, after months of gridlock and a government shutdown means: "We now have some good news for the first time in a long while," Klobuchar said.

At Second Harvest, teams of volunteers were loading bags of St. Cloud-grown potatoes for distribution to area food shelves. Nutrition assistance is a major part of the Farm Bill and a major reason the bill derailed last month.

But Klobuchar said that after the recent shutdown, a gridlock-weary public is ready for lawmakers to get back to work.

"This is what Minnesota is all about and this is what the farm bill is all about. It's about helping other people and it's about food," Klobuchar said. "And this is what the farm bill is all about."


MN braces for 'bad things' ahead from shutdown

Posted by: Jennifer Brooks Updated: October 2, 2013 - 4:48 PM

The longer the federal shutdown lasts, the more Minnesotans could feel the pain.

When Washington shut down, it shut off millions of dollars that should have been flowing into state agencies, services, schools and paychecks.

The governor has assembled an emergency task force to try to identify which state agencies and programs are in danger of running out of money first, and prepare Minnesotans for the potential loss of those services. State officials say there’s no way for the state to make up for that loss, so when the money starts to run out for things like the school lunch program, Minnesotans may have to do without.

“What we passionately hope is that the federal government will come together and figure out how to get its bills paid,” said Tina Smith, chief of staff to Gov. Mark Dayton. “We are not in a position where we can just fill gaps that are created by their political breakdowns.”

During a conference call with reporters, state officials pointed out just how closely federal funds are twined in the state economy.

Some 19,000 Minnesotans work for the federal government and more than 3,000 state employees are primarily funded by Washington. The longer the shutdown lasts, the longer those people will go without paychecks.

A quarter of the state budget comes from federal funds. More, in the case of agencies like the Department of Education, which gets 60 percent of its funding from Washington – including the funds that allow schools to offer free and reduced lunches and breakfasts to needy children.

Minnesota relies on federal funding for everything from meat inspections to salaries for the National Guard – more than a thousand Guard employees have been furloughed already.

Two days into the shutdown , it’s too early to say what effect the shutdown will have on Minnesota, or where the money will run out first.

“It will be an evolving situation. The problems we know about today today may not be the ones we have to respond to tomorrow. There are likely to be new ones each and every day,” said Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter. “Part of the problem of the shutdown is the unpredictability.”
For now, every day of the shutdown is another day with thousands of Minnesotans out of work and countless state programs slowly running short of funds.

“Bad things happen when people go to school…hungry,” Smith said. “Bad things happen when don’t get the payments they have been counting on in order to make sure they can pay their rent. Bad things happen.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan returning to Minnesota

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: August 26, 2013 - 11:09 AM

Former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will take a swing through Minnesota next month for the Center of the American Experiment.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan, of Wisconsin, will be the featured guest at a $100 luncheon and a $5,000 pre-lunch event for the right-of-center think tank.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan arriving in Minnesota for a November 2012 Romney campaign event

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan arriving in Minnesota for a November 2012 Romney campaign event


The events will be on Sept. 26 at the Hilton Minneapolis in downtown Minneapolis. 




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